Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Contraception and the War on Women -Updated
We now have Mrs Melinda Gates declaring that contraception is a good thing, promoting it with her considerable financial clout. I cannot understanding why, when contraception has been shown in research to have negative health impacts, that she wants to promote it for women in Africa and Asia; the poorer countries. Only if I wanted to keep wealth with the rich, and the poorer people low in numbers, could I join her in such a stand. Truly, what is needed is not her millions poured into contraception, but her millions poured into the building of an infrastructure in poor countries; an infrastructure that will allow those nations to advance within their own cultural understanding of the value of human life. It seems to me that contraception does not liberate women but oppresses them by making them more available to men; that it does not provide for health, since it brings health risks with it; that it does not create a sense of sexual responsibility but provides for sex without love and responsibility. In cultures where men are presumed to have a right to sex with women, I see contraception as a product that will not enhance the lives of women but which will make it easier for men to have their way and move on; a product that will enable men to 'love them and leave them' -or rather, to 'lust them and leave them'; a product that brings women down to the level of the irresponsible male rather than raise that male to the woman’s level of integrity. Contraception, in my opinion, oppresses women, it does not liberate them. Nor does it teach men to respect the bodies of women –or their own.-Fr Dickson
While it is true that prior to the 1960’s women were unjustly disadvantaged in the workplace when promotion was refused on the grounds that they might get pregnant (this injustice needed correcting, and contraception did appear to do so), the reality is that contraception chipped away at women’s dignity from day one, and this is lamentable. It has insidiously damaged women in many ways:
1. Both forms of contraception, hormonal and mechanical, encouraged women to view their fertility as a liability; to see children as social oppressors, and to view the unborn child almost as a tumour requiring excision.
2. The marketing of hormonal contraception as a ‘preventative health service’ is a misnomer perpetrated against women since fertility and pregnancy are states of health, therefore the only thing such contraception prevents is women’s health.
3. The long-term effects of hormonal contraception go beyond the immediate production of infertility to life-threatening states of ill-health: Stroke, Pulmonary Embolism, Breast and Cervical Cancer are all reported to be associated with contraception:
4. Hormonal contraception does nothing to prevent women contracting STI’s, which have increased in incidence over the years. It thus exposes women to ill-health. Condoms are said to provide the best protection against STI’s but do not eliminate the risk.
5. The chemical action of hormonal contraception disorders a woman’s healthy biology to make it unhealthy (infertile), and as such all-but a form of chemical warfare perpetrated against her body, and the only drugs prescribed with the specific intention of disrupting her health. Even chemotherapy is not prescribed for such a reason, its negative effects being tolerated only for the greater good of saving a life. Contraception disorders a woman’s body so as to preclude life.
6. Both forms of contraception encourage women to fall to the level of the promiscuous, irresponsible man. As one lady who was in her teens in the 1970’s put it, “Contraception didn’t give us equality; it just made us more available. It made it harder to say ‘no’ and blame our non-cooperation on old-fashioned parents”.
7. Both forms of contraception have facilitated a decreased awareness in women of their unique dignity as mothers; a loss which has all but reduced them to industrial production units by the selling of their eggs and the hiring out of their womb in surrogacy.
8. Both forms of contraception have facilitated the immoral man remaining at a very low level of self-control in the sexual appetites, with women as the object of these appetites.
The Catholic Church, while promoting as primary the unique genius of women (their nurturing and inter-relational gifts, without which the world grows emotionally cold and people uncooperative) authentically promotes the equality of women by requiring an end to all injustice against them in education, employment, political life etc. Indeed, the Church recognises that by teaching and modelling their unique gifts to their children, it is women who provide the building block for world peace. Should not authentic feminism laud the unique feminine genius as complimentary to men’s gifts of logic and grit if it seeks to raise the dignity and valuing of women as women, rather than promote women as pseudo men? What was needed in the 1960’s was fairness in education and employment; a fairness which allowed women to follow their career without having to retreat from the home and did not require them to attack their own body. Contraception may have seemed to bring women social equality, but I suggest there is good reason for saying that it only sabotaged women, and provided for the whole of society –men and women- to sink to the lowest common sexual denominator.
For the single woman, contraception can eradicate a proof of love, while abstinence is a sound way of ensuring the man in her life can demonstrate he truly loves and values her: if he is willing to wait, he is willing to make other sacrifices for her too. In marriage, sexual relations without contraception is to authentically make love; it is a complete trusting and giving of oneself to the other; a physical act of love which has a physical outpouring: a child; the beautiful embodiment of the love between husband and wife.